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THE RED: Sexy Sunday Snippet by Tiffany Reisz

18 Jun

THE RED is a stand alone Erotic Fantasy Novel by Tiffany Reisz coming out on July 11th.  If you like this excerpt you may want to check out RADISH where the story is being serialized right now.

You want to know more, don’t you?  Read the excerpt below…

WARNING: This excerpt is *very* naughty.  Contains consent play & BDSM

It was near midnight when Mona returned to the gallery. She was eager to see Malcolm again, and even more eager to see what artwork she’d earn from his collection. At least she told herself all she cared about was earning the art, earning money to save The Red Gallery from foreclosure. That she enjoyed earning the money was beside the point. And yet, her step was quick and she’d spent half the day checking the clock.

It was time.

She went to the red door that led to the back room, took a steadying breath, and pushed it open. At once she was seized by rough male hands and dragged into the room. The door slammed behind her and she was pushed against it, her back to it. She tried to scream but a hand covered her mouth.

“Quiet, girl.”

The words came from Malcolm, though he did not look as he did when she’d last seen him. He’d grown a short beard and mustache, which made him look older, even slightly sinister. He held a rope in one hand. So it was to be role play? Very well. She’d given him carte blanche. Anything meant anything. She shouldn’t be shocked or afraid. But she was afraid. She was.

Because they weren’t alone.

With Malcolm’s hand over her mouth she glanced around the room wildly in her panic. Four men in suits stood waiting by a wooden box in the center of the room. All four men wore masquerade masks—one black, one gray, one red, one gold. They were cyphers in their masks, anonymous. Only Malcolm was unmasked.

“Is there a problem with the girl?” one of the men called out, the one in the red mask. His tone was imperious.

“Not at all,” Malcolm said. “I’ve got her.”

“Let’s see her then,” the man in the black mask said. He sounded bored, impatient. “We haven’t got all night.”

Who were these men? She couldn’t ask because Malcolm had ordered her into silence and his hand still covered her mouth.

“Coming,” Malcolm said. “You won’t be disappointed.”

He spun her without warning, turning her back to him. He put his mouth at her ear and whispered, “Do not fight me, girl. Put on a good show. I want a high price for you.”

A good show… He’d told her last time she existed to entertain him. So be it. She nodded and said nothing, though her heart still raced with terror. Would he let all these men fuck her? No. She knew he wouldn’t.

Or did she?

He took her by the arms and pulled her away from the door. He walked behind her, steering her to the center of the room where the four masked men waited. She tried to study their faces but only one lamp was lit, and they were all in shadows. Only the colors of their masks could be clearly seen. She looked at the floor instead.

“On the box,” Malcolm ordered and she stepped up onto the low wooden platform. Malcolm bent and pulled her shoes from her feet, tossing them into the shadows. He stood and mounted the platform behind her.

“Let’s have a look,” the man in the gold mask said and the other masked men nodded their heads in agreement.

Behind her, Malcolm dragged the straps of her purple summer dress down her arms. She wore no bra and she had to force herself not to fight him as he pushed her dress down and let it pool at her feet. In an instant he had a small sharp knife out and he used the blade to cut her panties off her hips and those he tossed into the shadows with her shoes.

She was naked, completely naked, and standing in front of four strange men. Malcolm produced a rope from his jacket pocket and used it to tie her hands in front of her. Then he reached high and she looked up. He’d hung a metal hook from a ceiling beam. With a swift and easy motion that showed he’d done this sort of thing a thousand times before, Malcolm hoisted her hands over her head and secured the ropes on her wrists to the hook.

There was no escape.

Mona wiggled her hands and the men chuckled at the sight of her struggles.

“Here we are, gentlemen,” Malcolm said. “Tonight’s best lot. Take your time. Bid high. She’s worth it.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” the man in the red mask said as he stepped up onto the wooden platform. Malcolm stood behind her, holding her hair in his hand. Mona panted in fear and anticipation. The red-masked man placed his hand on her quivering stomach and stroked her side and hips.

“Very smooth skin,” he said.

“The smoothest you’ll find on the market,” Malcolm said.

The red-masked man took a hard handful of her thigh and gripped it, slapped it. The men watching laughed again.

“The breasts are particularly fine,” Malcolm said. “As you see.”

“I see,” the red-masked man said.

“I don’t,” said another man.

“Then come see for yourself,” Malcolm ordered.

The man in the red mask stepped off the platform and the man in the gold mask stepped on. Without hesitation he groped her right breast with a large strong hand. Mona cried out more in shock than pain. With her hands tied so high, her breasts were exposed and she couldn’t cover them in any way. It was stunning to be touched so intimately by a stranger. He lifted the breast as if to weigh it in his palm, then he pulled the nipple, twisting it a little, teasing and testing it.

“Very nice,” the gold-masked man said, nodding. He shifted to the side and did the same to her left breast. He groped it firmly, squeezed it, lifted and weighed it, before pinching the nipple again, tugging it, and letting it go. “How’s the ass?”

“See for yourself.” Malcolm turned her so that her back was to the gold-masked man. She felt a hand on her backside, rubbing her from her hip to her upper thigh.

“A full ass,” the man said, pleased, as he rubbed. “Soft but not too soft.” He slapped it once and Mona gasped, gasped again when he gripped it in both hands and squeezed it, then pinched it. “Young firm flesh. My favorite.”

“I told you she was worth the money,” Malcolm said.

It was unbearable, being treated like this, treated like chattel. She burned hot with shame and humiliation. Tears stung her eyes. Her breathing was labored and her arms ached. She wanted to cover herself so badly.

“We have to see the cunt first,” another man said. “You know that.”

“Of course,” Malcolm said, laughing. “Of course you have to see the cunt.”

“Let’s see it then.”

Mona groaned as Malcolm turned her to face the four men again. Two of them stepped onto the platform, the man in the black mask and the man in the red mask. Each of them took one of her legs in his hands and hoisted her off her feet. They held her thighs open, her feet dangling helplessly in mid-air, her sex open and exposed. The man in the gray mask stepped forward. He didn’t stand on the platform. He was at eye level with her vulva.

She shivered and moaned as the man in the gray mask extended his hand and lightly touched her pubic lips.

“Exquisite,” he said. “Well-formed.”

“Tight too,” Malcolm said. “But she can take anything you want to give her.”

She saw the hint of a smile on the gray mask’s lips. With his thumb and forefinger, he opened the inner folds of her vulva, revealing the hole, the entrance to her body. He slipped one finger into it.

“And wet. Very wet,” the man in the gray mask said. It was true. Humiliating but true. For all her shame and fear, she was undeniably aroused as well. The man inserted a second finger into her and spread the two fingers wide in a V. She felt herself opening. It was a violation of the sanctity of her body. Why did she relish it?

“What have we here…” the man said as he pushed his fingertip into a deep hollow inside her, near the pubic bone. He pushed hard into the hollow, poked the hollow, prodded at it, teased the delicate dancing nerves. “I can feel her pulse right here. Very rapid.”

“Let me feel it,” the man in the gold mask said. She was empty again but only for a moment, as the gold-masked man put his finger into her and found that same little hollow along the back wall. Her head fell back onto Malcolm’s shoulder as the man in the gold man fingered and fondled her while she hung in the air, spread out and on display. The man in the gold mask examined her clitoris as well, kneeling in front of her and pulling up the tiny hood of flesh to see the organ. It was swollen and she hated herself for that. She hated it all, hated being held, being opened, being examined and displayed…

Oh, but she loved it too.

As the man in the gold mask continued to spread out and probe her sex, the man in the black mask turned his attention to her mouth. She struggled against Malcolm’s shoulder as the man pried her lips apart.

“Don’t bite,” he chided as he stuck a finger into her mouth. She felt it against her teeth. He was counting them, she could tell. But when he was done, he left his finger pressed lightly against her tongue. Now they’d made her mute. A hand that belonged to someone, she didn’t know which man, grasped her breast again and cupped it roughly. A hot mouth latched onto her other nipple and sucked it hard. The fingers worked inside her sex, stroking and rubbing and opening her up wider and wider. She heard the sounds of her own intense wetness. Her labia were pulled and tugged like her nipples, lightly slapped before he, whoever it was this time, pushed his fingers into her again. Three fingers this time, or was it four? She couldn’t tell anymore. She was dripping with need. Five men and their mouths and their hands were all together touching her, fondling her, sucking her and penetrating her mouth and her sex as she writhed and moaned softly, unable to protest or cry out or beg for mercy or—even worse and far more likely—begged them to fuck her. She craved their cocks, all five of them. Before, she’d feared Malcolm would let them fuck her. Now she feared he wouldn’t. But these were mad thoughts. She couldn’t let that happen. She struggled in the iron grasp of the five men, but it did no good, only harm, as the writhing brought her even closer to climax.

Then they all let her go.

It happened so fast, she would have fallen to the floor if the rope hadn’t held her wrists. They released her and stepped off the platform as if someone had given a command she hadn’t heard. She shivered, suddenly cold. Only Malcolm still stood close. She wanted to press her body into his, but he had her by the waist, holding her in place.

“Well, gentlemen, any other requests?” Malcolm asked. “Are we ready to start the bidding yet?”

She braced herself for the haggling. What were they buying? The right to fuck her? Or was it still part of the game?

“Bend her over,” one of the men said. “Let’s see all her holes.”

“If you insist,” Malcolm said.

“I want to know exactly what I’m getting,” the man in the red mask said. “If it’s no trouble.”

“I admire a savvy buyer. And no,” Malcolm said. “No trouble at all. I’ll put her on the pedestal.”

“Very good,” the red-masked man said. The other three men murmured their assent.

Pedestal? What sort of pedestal? Malcolm dragged her off the wooden platform and into the shadows. The light followed as one of the men lifted the floor candle and carried it over to the far corner of the room where Malcolm was taking her. She saw something there, something waist high and covered with a large velvet cloth. Malcolm pulled off the cloth and dropped it to the floor. It was a black leather stool of sorts, but wide enough for her to kneel upon easily. Jutting up from the center of the seat was a large thick phallus, smooth black leather and terrifyingly long—a foot long at least. She shrank from the sight of it, but Malcolm didn’t allow her to flee. He lifted her off her feet and placed her on the top of the pedestal. He took her hips and angled them so that the tip of the phallus kissed the entrance of her hole.

“Take it,” he said, an order she couldn’t refuse. Her body wouldn’t let her. She went down onto her hands and knees and sank onto the phallus, sliding her knees apart and taking as much of it into her as she could. As wet as she was, the massive object went into her easily and she rocked on it a little to take even more. She felt the muscles giving way to the phallus, accepting it, engulfing it. Malcolm had her pinned like a moth under glass. Pinned and put on display.

“Gentlemen, have a look,” Malcolm said. “I have oil here if you need it.”

The consummate salesman.

Mona hung her head, hiding her face behind her hair as the first man whose face she couldn’t see in this position came behind her and spread her buttocks apart. He made a pleased sound like he liked what he saw. He touched her with a finger and she gasped and shuddered. The fingertip was wet, covered in some sort of thick oil or lubricant. He slicked it all over the little hole, all around it. She tingled at the unusual sensation. It wasn’t unpleasant being caressed there on that sensitive opening, wasn’t unpleasant when the man slid a single finger into her as far as his finger could go. He held the finger in her, not moving it for a long time. She heard the men talking among themselves, saying things like “Very nice” and “Well done.” Inside her she felt the man moving his finger, not in and out, but around in a circle, opening her ever more and more.

“You have a plug?” the man asked Malcolm.

“Of course,” Malcolm said.

The finger left her but she soon felt something cold against her, cold and smooth like another phallus but far narrower than the one inside her sex. The man wielding it pushed the tip into her, paused, then pushed it in a few inches more as Mona let out a tense hiss between her teeth. Never before had a lover put anything into her ass—not a finger, not a phallus, not a cock. Yet here it was, going in as if it was made for her body. The man slid it in to the hilt and stopped. The base of the plug would let it go no deeper. Soft moans escaped her lips as Mona’s body adjusted itself to being doubly penetrated on the pedestal. She rocked back and forth, fucking herself with the phallus inside her vagina as the four prospective “buyers” walked around her. One stroked her hair, lifted it and sniffed it. Another stood by her face and took her nipples between his fingers and lightly pulled them. His fingers were cold and sent currents of electricity through her breasts and back. Another man played with her clitoris. His fingertip was wet with the oil as he stroked her. The last man rubbed her buttocks, caressing them lightly but over and over again. Sometimes he would pause to touch the plug or the phallus between caresses.

“Now, gentlemen,” Malcolm began, “let’s start the bidding, shall we?”

“I’ll take her for a hundred,” the man in the red mask said. A hundred dollars? A hundred thousand? A hundred days?

“Anyone wish to counter-offer?” Malcolm asked.

“Too rich for my blood,” the man in the gold mask said. He pinched her nipples again and she flinched as her sex contracted around the phallus.

“Mine too, I’m afraid,” said another man. He slapped her thigh lightly as if saying goodbye to prize horseflesh.

“I’d love to take her,” the last man said. “But I promised myself I wouldn’t spend more than eighty.”

“Then I think we have a deal, my good sir,” Malcolm said. The man in the red mask had been the one fondling her clitoris. Through the veil of her hair she saw him and Malcolm shaking hands. They moved out of her eye line, stood behind her. “Shall I take her off the pedestal for you?”

“No,” the man in the red mask said. “Leave her there. I’ll handle it.”

She heard footsteps, the door opening and closing, but she was certain the man in the red mask hadn’t left her because she felt his finger on her clitoris again. And then on her labia split wide by the huge phallus penetrating her.

“Magnificent,” he said. “Worth every penny.”

He took her hips in his hands and pushed her down, forcing her to take more of the phallus. Her head came up and she moaned with need. She could barely see. Everything was red. The blood behind her eyes, the blaze of her desire, the engorged flesh of her sex, all red, red everything everywhere, red as the man’s mask, the man who owned her. He lifted her up and off the pedestal and put her on her feet. He’d opened his black suit pants and his cock was out, erect and glistening with fluid at the engorged red tip. She had to have it inside her. She had to. She reached for it but he caught her hands, pushed her back into the wall and held her wrists over her head. Desperate, she thrust her hips forward to rub against him. Every move she made sent wild tremors through her body. The plug was deep in her ass still and she wanted it there. But she needed his cock inside her too. Needed it more than anything.

He guided the tip to graze her painfully swollen clitoris and she cried out. With one quick pump of his hips, he pushed the tip through the folds of her labia. With one more pump he penetrated her and with a final pump he entered her entirely. She came off her feet as he lifted her with his hips and pinned her again, this time against the wall. Her breasts bounced as his thrusts lifted her and lifted her. She was nearly screaming in her ecstasy, out of her mind with her pleasure. It felt like she had a rod of iron inside her, as thick, as hot, and as hard as anything could be. She didn’t know this man at all but he owned her. He’d bought her body and now he owned her. She was his slave, his possession, chattel, an object, his to do with as he willed. And what he willed was to fuck her against the wall, ram himself deep into her, pound her and pound her until she came with an unholy moan. Her head fell back against the wall and the man in the red mask kissed her neck, sucking the skin there until she felt it break against his teeth. She didn’t care. The pain spiked the pleasure. The plug in her ass and the cock in her pussy magnified the orgasm a hundred times. His thrusts were relentless. The man in the mask rammed her once more, twice more, a third time and then she felt the burning seed explode inside her so deep she could swear she could taste it on her tongue.

Mona went limp, but she was still impaled on the man’s penis, her feet twined around his thighs, her back pressed to the wall. She rested her head on his shoulder and breathed. Who was this man who’d bought her? What would he do with her? What had she given herself over to? It was wrong, all wrong. She shouldn’t be having sex with this stranger, this cypher, this ghost. She put her hands on his chest to push him away.

“Put me down,” she said.

“Not yet.”

“No, now,” she said though he remained inside her, still hard.

“Carte blanche,” the man in the red mask said.

“That’s for Malcolm, not—”

The man took off his mask. It was Malcolm.

“I told you I liked to play games sometimes,” he said with that smile he stole from the devil. “Didn’t I?”

“Malcolm…” She stared at him in shock and in horror, still pinned to the wall. “You had a beard.”

“Did I?” he asked, lifting his eyebrow.

“You did. Was it…It had to be a fake. You fooled me. I was so sure…” The four men were likely friends of his and when they’d haggled behind her back, Malcolm had taken off his false beard and put on the red mask to trick her. And she’d been tricked, thoroughly tricked.

“You saw what I wanted you to see,” he said. “The oldest magician’s trick.”

“Is this a trick too?” She struggled to free herself from the organ that penetrated her and his body that trapped her against the wall.

“Oh no, this is real,” he said. “This is the only thing that’s real to me.”

Fantasizing About The Hot Villain: Women as Hunters

20 Apr

by Madeline Iva

Who here sees a movie and winds up fantasizing later on about the hot villain? Raising my hand. WHY is my question. Why aren’t we fantasizing about the hot hero? (I mean, maybe we are. Sometimes.) Last week I talked about the hot villain being redeemed all the way into becoming an anti-hero. Here is another post about how we are bitten by the compulsion to use a hot villain as fantasy fodder.

How many Harry Potter fans found Snape a bit more interesting than all the other characters? Raising hand again. Of course, Malfoy fan fic is popular all across this great land. (Bonus points for those who add a queer element.)  But cold snobbiness is not so obviously a turn on–so what is?

THE VILLAIN AS ROMANTIC CHALLENGE:

Some women are hunters.

I loathe shopping, but I believe that some women shop as a form of hunting. They hunt down a bargain, they trap their sale item, and display their trophy at home. Myself, I love capturing a shy person at a party.  If I can get a shy guy or woman to crack open and talk about themselves, then I am so happy lapping at all that hidden goodness within.  Here’s my theory: if you are more comfortable at a party when you have something to do vs. just hanging out, I’m guessing you like to hunt a potential mate who presents some kind of challenge.

On the other hand, we need to respect the fact that some women like hunting men as an attention game for the sheer sport of it, whether they’re also looking for sex, romance, or a husband.  The idea of women hunting after men often used to have a really negative connotation.  But let’s face it, women really are socially very powerful.  For instance, there’s a Georgette Heyer book called AN INFAMOUS ARMY in which the heroine ‘Babs’ is in a mood, so she decides draw a man clear across the room to her with just one look.  She’s that kind of vixen.  Later on, she’s almost undone when she finally lands a guy she actually likes, because the vixen thing only works well when you don’t care, and by that point she cares a lot more than she wants to.

Spike is love’s bitch, and he’s man enough to admit it.

I decided to try a Babs-ian moment at one point in my life.  People were dancing and I was having some kind of crazy hormonal surge that left me feeling ridiculously full of confidence.  I spotted this guy on the other side of the dance floor–a blonde–and just BAM! Gave him one look.  It worked.  I watched with a bit of amused disbelief as he came across the crowded dance floor.  He turned out to be mega-cool and by the end of the night we had a thing going on.  (He dumped me a few months later.) On the other end of the spectrum, luring my Sweetie into a relationship was a much more subtle and drawn out process.  In those moments where I would entice him to yet another fun social event where we could bond, I was like a different person.  Kinda hunter-y, though that’s not how I’d put it at the time.  But definitely confident, goal-oriented, and–um–compelling.  Of course, I was an insecure mess the rest of the time, obsessed and anxious, desperate and yet still hoping.

My point is: the heart you have to conquer is the heart you’ve earned.  And when it comes to villains, they’re just not easy to conquer. Maybe they’re selfish, or mis-trusting.  Your above-average intellectual villain wouldn’t fall for you just because of your looks.  He’s probably more discriminating.

THE VILLAIN WHO HAS A HEART–though it’s “small and tiny, and he can’t remember the last time he used it.”

Your ideal hot villain cares for only one or two people–if that.  So in the fantasy, the villain who only has the capacity to love in the low single digits–loves you. You get to be within that circle of protection. You get to be one of the chosen few.

Even better–villains are often virgins of the heart when it comes to romantic feels.  He’s having new feelings he’s never had before, and this makes your encounter all the more scrumptious.

The fantasy about the villain is he can be so awful to others, but stops being simply awful to you.  He just can’t.  He may even be frustrated and unhappy that he can’t.  Being unable to act like an utter sh** the way he does to everyone else becomes proof that whether he wants to or not, he’s got the feels for you, and he’s got it bad.

THE VILLAIN AS COLD, ISOLATED MAN:

Fassy as Magnito in the Xmen franchise might as well be singing “Allllll by mysellllf”.   He’s an iceberg and you want to thaw him out. 

THE VILLAIN YOU PRACTICE YOUR SUPER-POWERS UPON, AKA THE PLOT OF EVERY DARK ROMANCE EVER WRITTEN:

 I love a Villain who does some bad stuff but also some good stuff and shows real anti-hero potential. In Dark Romance the villain/hero does a lot of bad stuff–even to the heroine.  Yet the heroine holds out a kind of hope:

  • if we can bond,
  • if I can show him I trust him,
  • if become one of the very few HE TRUSTS

…then I’ll be safe via some combo of my looks/personality/vulnerability/wits/social powers, and gift of persuasion…

…and therefore I survive and therefore I WIN.

Yeah—call this Stockholm Syndrome–sure, go ahead.

But Stockholm syndrome had a negative connotation of a kind of victim-hood, whereas what I’m talking about is slaying your skulking hottie villain with love-bonding.

This is less about being a victim and more about working raw survival skills when you’re at a complete disadvantage using only your powers of attraction and persuasion – which can feel like a sort of triumph and conquest. It’s like killing someone with one tiny piece of string.

SO WHY ARE WE LIKE THIS?

Why are we attracted to men with limited or negative qualities? Why aren’t we just wired to dive onto that sunny, friendly, honest good guy and not let go?  Welp.  I think it has something to do with The Warrior Gene problem.

THE WARRIOR GENE

There actually is a genetic variant that some humans (men) have which they call the warrior gene.  With this genetic variant you can get empathy, but it’s rather limited.  For instance, you can have soldiers who are efficient killing machines in battle, but still display love and caring for their family and children. This gene shows a middle ground between ‘normal’ people who really don’t like to hurt others, and sociopaths who have a hard time caring for anyone but themselves.

Okay, so here’s my whack theory: I hypothesize that there’s a counterpart to the Warrior Guy gene.

THE WARRIOR MATE GENE

Let’s call it the Warrior Mate gene.  The Warrior Mate gene (if it exists) would be a genetic variant that makes women highly attracted to Warrior Guys–even if Warrior Guy is sometimes a dick. I mean, in terms of evolution, Warrior Guy is the perfect mate waaaaaay back in the day, right? He won’t attack and abuse the children or you, but–and this is key–he will protect the family against ruthless, violent attacks. His lack of emotions in the moment of battle will give him an edge and he will be competent and unhesitating when it comes to killing.  Of course you’d be wired to look for this guy and to be attracted to him and draw him in close.

Further whack theory: this is why we women have evolved to process relationships to a much greater degree than men. (There’s science to back this up.) We need to sort through all the good and the bad when it comes to guys–sifting fine nuances in behavior–because sometimes the bad can work in our favor. I mean, look, if the Huns are on our doorstep we can’t go fight them all if we’ve got three knee-biters to look after. Right?

Do you revel in a good villain? Let me know in the comments section below.  Speaking of reveling:

We’re only two weeks away from our big event at RT.  Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, fetish toys, books and more! Goodybags to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30.

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

Reasons To Bang The Bad Guy, Pt. 1

13 Apr

by Madeline Iva

Saranna DeWylde got me thinking yesterday about why we’re so attracted to awesome villains like Loki. Because we are. I am.  Before I unleash my perverse romantic side, let us be clear: I’d never go near an evil dude in real life.  (I can’t help thinking of this guy who said to me in college: Women only like assholes, never the good guys.  No, David, most of us like the good guys.) That said…here’s the break-down on why we are simply fascinated with depictions of excellent villains and their equally hot cousin, the anti-hero.

(What is an anti-hero but a villain who was so damn attractive he was morphed by popular demand into Super-Duper Flawed Guy.  Examples: Damon on Vampire Diaries, Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sawyer on Lost — I could go on and on and on…)

From a romance perspective, a great, charismatic villain provides hideous temptation to fantasize.Their are specific qualities that particularly tempt us.  Let’s explore them, shall we?

THE VILLAIN AS A FANTASY OBJECT OF REDEMPTION:

  1. We especially like a villain with teeny bit of good in him: Romance readers are always willing take a small nugget of goodness and blow it up into something mate-worthy–even heroically substantial. Readers feel this especially for good looking men.  Would that we were as kind to women*** Anyway, Jamie Dornan playing Paul Spector in THE FALL is a serial killer, but also a loving dad to his daughter–therefore, it hurts when his world is falling down around him at the end and he has to explain to his daughter that he’s not going to raise her anymore and probably not see her again. There’s not the usual feeling of satisfaction that he’d been caught for his evil deeds and is going away for forever.  (I think the point originally was to show the audience that he’s victimized his daughter as well–but there was such an intense depth of emotion to the scene that it mutated into something more complicated, intriguing, and relatable.)
  2. Villain as misunderstood– underneath his/her reprehensible actions, there’s a world of hurt in that villain.  The villain needs someone to kiss the boo-boos and make it better. Frankenstein’s monster just wants to give the little girl a flower. Is it his fault she passes out from fear and people mis-construe the way he carried her off? He’s just MISUNDERSTOOD PEOPLE!
  3. Villain as a fish out of water – Loki fits this — he’s a fish out of water in Valhalla.  He’s intelligent and incredibly powerful, but despite his talents he’s not the leader–he’s not even one of them. Despite his strong call to lead, he’ll never get the chance because he’s a cuckoo in the nest. He’s all twisted up from the git go cause of the lies and things that were hidden from him – none of which is his fault. And frankly, NO ONE CARES to make it right with him. All paranormal monsters are always a fish out of water when it comes to normality–even when normality is being an immortal god in a giant hall at the end of a rainbow.
  4. Villains as victims/victims of betrayal:  Sebastian Stan was cat nip as THE WINTER SOLDIER in the movie of the same name.  Inside that weird bromance-core was an understanding of Stan’s plight: He can’t HELP IT – it’s not his fault—he’s been brainwashed!!!!  And those lips, yi.  Meanwhile, James Franco in Spider-man loved his father, and was blinded to the truth by his father, because his best friend and father both lied to him. The ending of the first Spider Man is drenched in irony through Franco not realizing that his virtues (his loyalty to his father) means his best friend becomes his worst enemy. I remember watching the first movie long ago and liking Franco in his proto-villain phase far more than anyone else in the movie even before Franco became a big deal.

    James we hardly knew ye as Harry Osborn.

  5. Villain as vulnerable: we relate to flaws A LOT. A top-notch villain can is as much a prisoner of his past and deep psychological needs as anyone else.

    Kylo Ren is angsty, unstable–ready to crack open and bleed pain. Yum!

  6. For some villains, happiness is just so close–yet so far away! Show me a villain who has the chance to change and I’ll show you a riveted romance audience.  The best villains often have pain they cling to that goads them towards doing evil–and when there’s a chance the villain might back off from this emotional sticky point before the point of no return oh, we are in our happy place! That’s how you know romance audiences–we want happy endings for anyone we find interesting.

NEXT WEEK: VILLAINS & OUR FORBIDDEN DESIRES

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

***Women on the whole are a lot more unforgiving towards other women than they are towards men. I think with a romantic perspective and therefore believe that my readers view worthy, hot men as objects of romantic conquest/relationship projects. At the same time I believe almost all women are still socialized to be harshly judgmental when it comes to other women–especially those depicted in romance novels.

Is that statement upsetting? I would never want to accuse someone unjustly of sexism, but even I fall down when taking the quiz below–see how you do:

  • Name three women you know personally who sleep around a lot, but you DON’T think are sluts
  • Name 3 woman you know who doesn’t prioritize their kids but you don’t judge them as neglectful moms
  • Name three women you know who have some kind of authority over you or someone very close to you that you don’t think of as busybodies or annoying bitches.
  • If you read a romance novel about an unmarried woman, who is intensely focussed on her career, and doesn’t want kids, or to take care of the people around her–would you see her as a role model? Or would you think she’s too selfish and unlikeable for a romance heroine? Now if the character was switched to a romance hero, would you also think he was selfish and unlikeable?

 

 

Meet An Owned, Collared and Well-Educated Feminist

24 Feb

by Elizabeth SaFleur

A few years ago I met the very lovely, very real BDSM lifestyler, AJ Renard, at the BDSM Writers Con in New York. An owned and collared submissive, AJ is an artist, model, executive and many other things — and she loves dispelling misconceptions about kink, as well as making sure people stay safe as they enter and explore the lifestyle. Her shoe and lingerie collection is to die for. And, look! A special jewelry giveaway from AJ below.

February is known as “love month.” It’s also when a certain movie came out.What a perfect time to sit down with AJ and set the record straight on BDSM and all things kinky — especially if you’re ready to go there.

The lovely AJ Renard, who also models!

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: AJ! It’s so great you’re here. Can you tell our readers about your BDSM/Kink lifestyle experience?
AJ RENARD: I have been in the lifestyle since my late teens, although I have always been strongly aware of my inclinations. It’s difficult to pinpoint one aspect of the lifestyle that draws me. I am a 24/7 submissive (the bottom in a Power Exchange relationship, where the submissive partner has willingly and consensually handed over some or all decision-making power in their life to their Dominant), which fulfills a deep need in me to serve and please another, and allows me the freedom to trust someone enough to put my life in their hands. I am also fundamentally a bottom (someone who receives the action during a BDSM scene vs. a Top who does the action to someone) in play and sexual encounters; it is intrinsically a part of me, and something I have never not had in my life.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So you’re “all in.” I imagine that surprises people when they meet you.
AJ RENARD: I think one of the things that surprises most people is simply to learn that I am a submissive. There is a broad misconception that being a submissive makes you weak, or a doormat, when, in reality, most Dominants value submissives who have a mind of their own and use it. Being submissive does not mean that I can’t have a great career as an executive, or that I can’t voice my opinion, or that I can’t allow my sassy and rambunctious personality to shine through. It simply means that I live by a set of rules to please my Dominant, and I trust him to make decisions for my benefit and growth, as well as for the health of our relationship.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Is there anything in the BDSM world that the vanilla world gets wrong, consistently?
AJ RENARD: That the lifestyle is sexually-focused. There are absolutely people, myself included, who express their sexuality through kink, but there are also many people who find satisfaction, sanctuary, healing, love, safety, and security in the lifestyle without it being sexual for them.

One of the things that bugs me the most (besides all the other things I’ve been ranting about!) is the impression many people have that BDSM is in direct conflict with feminism. There is a perception that BDSM is all about men controlling and hurting women, or women being docile and submissive (in a pejorative sense of the word). While there are many PE dynamics with a man in the D/ role and a woman in the /s role, those roles, and their activities, are consented to by both parties.

I consider myself a feminist, and I strongly encourage women to choose the path in life that makes them happy and fulfilled. For some, that might be owning a company or it might mean being a stay at home mom. It might mean being a Dominant, and taking on that D/ role yourself. It might mean handing over your power to another. Regardless, to me, being a feminist means finding what makes you feel good and having the freedom to pursue it, and not judging or condemning other women for how or where they find their own happiness. The BDSM lifestyle is where many people find their freedom, and it allows people to explore desires and parts of themselves that they may have been told they should be ashamed of.  I think that is very positive, empowering, and feminist.

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ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: My next question could fill a book, but I’m asking anyway! What do you wish people knew about BDSM, in general? There seems to be so much misinformation…
AJ RENARD: Ohhhh my gosh… There’s so much…! One of the biggest things I wish people truly understood is that everything in the lifestyle is based on consent. Consent is discussed, informed, enthusiastic, and can be withdrawn at any time by either partner.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Anytime?
AJ RENARD: Yes. One of the questions I see asked a lot by newcomers (especially by young, inexperienced submissives) is “can my Dominant do X?” My first question back is almost always “did you discuss it and consent to it?” Because that’s what it boils down to. Both parties must consent to what is happening within a relationship or scene.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: A certain book (clears throat before saying it includes the words “Fifty” and “Shades”) opened the door to many to the world of BDSM. Yet, many real-world BDSM community members were upset about how BDSM was characterized. What would you tell someone whose only exposure was that movie or series?
AJ RENARD: If someone discovers their kinky side through a work of fiction, I think that’s great! The important thing to remember is that it’s fantasy. Real life is always different, and especially in BDSM (or any other “culture” steeped in protocols and traditions), if you don’t live the lifestyle day to day, it’s difficult to portray it accurately.

A lot of what rubbed the BDSM community the wrong way with that particular book goes back to one of the misconceptions I spoke about earlier – the idea that consent is paramount in this lifestyle. The main character was uninformed about the lifestyle in general, the dynamic she was entering into, and even the types of play they would engage in. How can you consent to something you don’t know will happen? She didn’t consent to the amount of control he took over her life, and when there isn’t consent, what is left is a violation.

I think that erotic fiction and the BDSM genre has made some conversations about sexuality and kinks slightly more acceptable (I say slightly because many of the people I know in the lifestyle would still lose their jobs, friends, and even their family if they were outed- there is still a tremendous amount of fear and bias surrounding the BDSM community), but it has also created a desire for many people to learn about and participate in kink, even when they’re not sure where to start.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So how should someone start?
AJ RENARD: If someone finds their interest piqued by something they read in a BDSM novel and they want to explore more, I would encourage them to start by reading nonfiction. There are some great books and websites out there that will help you get a better idea of what the lifestyle is about, and what you might be interested in.

Editorial Note: SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman and Screw the Roses, Send me the Thorns by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon are two staples of BDSM education.

For many people, fantasizing and reading is as far as they want to go, and that’s perfectly fine! For those who want to experiment, I always always always encourage them to find in-person education. Most medium cities have a local scene, and you usually don’t have to look very far away to find an event, class, party, or munch.

Munches are low-pressure social gatherings, usually in a private space at a restaurant or other non-kink venue. There is no play, or kinky activity. From the outside it looks like any other social gathering, and it’s an opportunity for kinksters to meet, socialize, and be amongst like-minded people. Many munches have an appointed person who greets and introduces newcomers to people, so you don’t feel so alone or out of place! You don’t have to be intimidated even if you’re not sure what you’ll talk about, a lot of the time most of the conversations have nothing to do with kink!

Another great way to meet people and dip your toe into the scene is through classes. Many clubs and groups (especially TNG groups- “The Next Generation” groups, for people under 35) will offer skills classes like BDSM 101, intro to impact play, etc. and those are another way to educate yourself and meet new people. Fetlife.com and FindAMunch.com can help you find a local munch, and classes in your area.

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“To play safely, you must be informed, about yourself, your partner, and the play in which you are engaging.” ~AJ Renard

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Since BDSM has come out of the closet, so to speak, education seems very important right now.
AJ RENARD: I always believe in the power of education! Traditions, skills, safety practices, and knowledge are all highly regarded in the BDSM community, and most of these are not learned overnight, and not instilled in someone without effort.

BDSM education, in my opinion, is incredibly important for two main reasons: Safety and Respect.

The first, and most obvious, is safety. As a bottom, you are often putting your physical and emotional safety in someone else’s hands, as a Top, you are often responsible for them. That is not something to be taken lightly, and even deceptively simple types of play (how hard can it be to tie someone’s hands with some clothesline you have lying around, right?) can often carry risk that you don’t know about. To play safely, you must be informed, about yourself, your partner, and the play in which you are engaging.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So true, so true. I’ve seen some “live experimentation” on a person before and it made me cringe.
AJ RENARD: Many skills also require practice and are techniques that must be learned. If you can’t aim that flogger and hit the spot you intend to, every time, with the intensity and force you want, you need more practice before aiming it at a human being. Additionally, you need to learn how to vet your potential partners, keep yourself safe, asses their skill level, negotiate and set limits for scenes, etc. If you’re completely new to kink, those are things that you will need to learn- in classes, from experienced kinksters, from a mentor, etc.

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AJ in rope suspension.

The second biggest reason I think education is important is respect. I often compare it to moving to a foreign country. There is a new culture, language, customs, way of relating, and to respect and honor it you must understand it. I see many newcomers complain (mostly in online groups) that they don’t feel as immediately welcomed as they thought they should have been. What many people fail to realize is that to people who are deeply into the lifestyle, new people can present a potential threat.

To people in the community, newcomers can often mean someone who wants to pass by all the education, safety knowledge, and wisdom experienced players have to offer, and get right to the “exciting (i.e. dangerous) stuff.” It can mean that someone may not take the time to learn the traditions and culture of the community, and may deeply offend someone because they haven’t made the effort to understand the lifestyle, even if they don’t practice it in the same way. There is also the very real danger that someone who doesn’t understand the need for privacy and discretion, who is caught up in the excitement of getting involved in kink, may inadvertently “out” someone- as I mentioned earlier, while some aspects of kink are becoming more socially acceptable, there are serious, real world consequences if some people were to be outed.

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“With BDSM being more widely discussed, many more people are trying kink, and many people are doing it dangerously. Unfortunately, those people are the ones who often end up in the news, representing the BDSM community when something goes horribly wrong in their play.” ~AJ Renard

When you enter this community, you will come across people who live their lives in ways you might have never imagined. The kink community is an accepting place where they have found a home, and educating yourself about different lifestyles, types of play and relationships will help you navigate the waters and remain respectful.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Is there anything that erotic fiction authors “get wrong” a lot…or a little?
AJ RENARD: One of my biggest peeves with a lot of BDSM fiction is that most scenes seem to be foreplay for sex. For a huge swath of kinksters, the majority of their scenes do not involve intercourse, and many scenes are not even sexual in nature. It may be a rope scene that is much more about the ties and positions and suspension. It might be fireplay for the sensation and relaxation, it might be a bootblacking scene for the appreciation of the leather and the act of service, and there are PE dynamics that are service-based, with no sexual interaction. Now, I understand the space between a rock and a hard place in which authors find themselves. Yes, they want to accurately portray the lifestyle, but their readers also want to pick up something sexy to read!

The other issue I usually have is the sped up timeline. BDSM takes time. Skills take time to learn, it takes time to build trust, it takes time to vet someone and negotiate. Again, I understand that these are vastly less exciting to read about than someone jumping in and discovering themselves through hot, kinky sex with someone who they instinctively know is safe and skilled and knowledgeable.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Do you believe BDSM is “coming into its own” in the world now? Like we’ve reached a critical mass and there’s greater understanding and acceptance than in decades past? (Is this a stupid question? LOL)
AJ RENARD: Kink, as far as the more generic perception of kink (maybe some leather cuffs, a blindfold, running an ice cube over the body, spanking, maybe some butt stuff), is getting slightly more acceptable. In the same way that Kinsey’s studies found evidence that homosexual acts and behavior were too prevalent in the general population to be considered truly “abnormal,” people are starting to realize that the desire for some level of kink in the bedroom is far more common than we used to think.

However, many kinks, things like ageplay, more extreme Sadism and masochism, consensual slavery, CNC (consensual non-consent, like rape and kidnapping play), and even D/s relationships like the one I have, amongst many, many others, are still looked at with suspicion and derision. People can lose their jobs, custody of their children, and rape cases because of their lifestyle, plus facing discrimination and potential loss of friends, family, and community. Someone might understand giving your spouse a spanking, but it’s still a far leap for many of those people to understand that I truly like being hurt and terrified, to the point that I am sobbing and begging, or that a rape victim can find catharsis and comfort in CNC scenes where they might be able to feel as if they’re rewriting their attack under their own power and control.

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“It takes a lot of understanding and education for many people to understand those, or that someone can need to be in a little headspace to feel protection and love, or that sometimes it feels really, really good to just be objectified and used as a footstool.” ~AJ Renard

BDSM was only recently removed from the DSM (in the DSM V, published in 2013), and the law has not yet caught up- many activities in BDSM are considered illegal (in the United States you cannot consent to your own bodily harm). De-stigmatizing kink, and no longer classifying it as a mental illness is a start, but there is still a long and difficult road ahead before most of us might be able to live without fear of the consequences of how we express our need to serve, our sexuality, and our love.

(The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, NCSFreedom.org, has been instrumental in many of these advancements. It is a great organization to be involved with or donate to!)

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Thanks, AJ. You certainly have given us a lot to think about!

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

Ooo, look at the pretties! Four people will be randomly selected from the comments section below for one of the beautiful pieces below. Or, you can go like our Facebook page and be entered to win, too.

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Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington. Join her Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty exclusive reader’s group or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Real Life Christian Grey Talks BDSM & Fifty Shades

15 Feb

Hello readers!  We have a guest post for you today from A.C. Rose–an interview republished TheThreeTomatoes.com. Find out more about A.C. Rose’s writing and her book about 50 Shades at her website. Check out her facebook group 50 Shades of Grey Fans.unnamed

Shades of Al Daltrey: Talking About BDSM with a Real Life Christian Grey

As “Fifty Shades Darker” plays in theaters around the world women are once again thinking of Christian Grey, BDSM and sexually dominant males. I felt it my journalistic duty to bring you an interview with a man who knows about it all, first hand.

Al Daltrey is a real life Dom who lives the lifestyle and also writes strong BDSM erotica. His books come with a warning label and are not traditional erotic romances, yet he has gained a following of female fans that appreciate his unapologetic peek into the world of BDSM. You might even say it brings some of them to their knees.

By day, Daltrey dons a suit and tie, and works in marketing. In 2014 he opened his laptop and somewhat accidentally launched a second career as an erotica author, penning his first book, Testing the Submissive. He admits it is “more extreme” than anything he would ever consider doing with a real life submissive, yet readers say the story makes them tingle in all the right places.

There is a line in that book that, to my mind, sums up why women love to read about powerful Alphas. “Experienced and mature dominants always have an understated confidence,” he writes. “There is no need to flaunt their power.” There is something very sexy about men, real and fictional, who own their power.

His second novel, A Condo With Two Views, is written from the point-of-view of both the Dom and the Sub. His most recent books are, Pain, Pleasure, and Purpose: Pleasure (Book One) Pleasure) and Pleasure, Pain or Purpose: Pain (Book Two).They tell the story of three best friends who help each other navigate life, loss and love…and lots of kinky sex. “I poured everything I had into this story,” says the author.

It’s not often you get to pull up a chair and talk to a real life, happily married, sexually dominant male, so we appreciate Al taking the time to answer some of our burning questions.

AC ROSE: What exactly is a male dominant?

AL DALTREY: First, let me say: definitions are not always universal.  Ask 25 people the difference between a liberal and a conservative and you will get 25 different answers. All my answers in this interview are my personal opinion based on my personal experiences. Others in the BDSM lifestyle may disagree, and that is fair.  For this question, I assume you mean a sexual dominant. The simple definition is: a person, male or female, who takes control during consensual sex. The submissive of course, relinquishes that control.

And what is exactly vanilla sex?

Vanilla sex is simply regular, normal, healthy non-BDSM sex.  Or, even more simply…non-kinky sex. It is a term that became popular within the BDSM lifestyle to describe sex between those who are not in the lifestyle.

So from your perspective, can a sexually dominant male enjoy both?

Absolutely.  Personally, I have always loved great vanilla sex. I may practice BDSM, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy vanilla sex too. BDSM became the icing on the cake.  In a good healthy sexual relationship, there are nights where a couple wants the lovemaking to be soft, tender and romantic.  Another night, for kinky fun, they might employ bondage and spanking.  The point is, it’s not all or none. There is room for both.

How did you find yourself on this path, personally? And are you currently in a power exchange relationship?

I was born with it. I know that for a fact. Growing up, the fantasies and inclinations were there. That said, for me, consent is key. I do not believe in force, and do not find force arousing in any way.  Today I am very happily married to my beautiful wife.

Female sexual submission is a controversial topic. Some see female submission as a weakness yet many women find role play satisfying and they obviously like reading about it too.

During my lifetime I’ve been lucky enough to meet my fair share of submissive women. And don’t for a minute think these women were weak. Outside the bedroom they were confident, opinionated, gregarious and self-assured. In fact, many of them were successful executives or professionals. At the workplace, they kicked butt. However, inside the bedroom (so to speak) they wanted to feel the strong firm hand of a dominant man taking complete control.

What got you started writing erotic books?

I started writing because of an interest in BDSM, not because of an interest in writing. One day, I flipped open my laptop and starting writing a kinky BDSM story, not really thinking about where it would lead. Soon I had 20 pages, then 40, then 60 and I knew I was on my way to my first novel.  I heard about self-publishing, so cleaned it up and uploaded it onto Amazon. The reaction seemed positive, and soon I had a Street Team on Facebook helping me promote the book.

Erotic romance is a huge now. Do you find as many readers who just want to read about kinky sex for arousal?

In my view, the market for erotic romance novels is far bigger than the “kinky sex for arousal” market.  The latter market scours the internet for sites such as Literotica to get their fix.  There are exceptions of course.  Some novels do well.  But generally, I believe the kinky sex market is remarkably small.

Since you are writing as a sexually dominant male, what do think women hope to learn from your books, and from you?

I worry about that. My books are not intended to “teach” anything about the BDSM lifestyle. They are intended simply as fiction. A story. I worry when people read my books hoping for a glimpse into the real BDSM lifestyle.  My books have a lot of stuff that I don’t condone.  Just like action movies are exaggerated, so are BDSM novels.  People should read my books for fun, not for education.

Is the sex in your novels rough because that is what your readers want?

It’s not that I’m trying to cater to what the reader wants but in storytelling almost everything is exaggerated for dramatic effect. In a cop story we see these wildly spectacular car chases where 10 Police cars chase a car through crowded streets at speeds of 200 mph. In a medical drama the Doctor heroically saves countless lives.  In a sports movie the athlete scores the winning goal with two seconds left.  Think of every single Hollywood movie you know. So, with a BDSM novel, the same applies. The tasks that the submissive must perform are exaggerated for dramatic effect. It’s fantasy. So, in my books, the sex scenes are intensified as is the case in every other genre.

Your reading audience is primarily women. Some would like to turn their vanilla mates into dominant males, or at least get them to experiment. Any advice on getting guys to try new things?

To answer a question like that would take pages, and even then, it varies by person/couple.  I’m not sure I can provide a succinct answer.  There is some information on my blog.  As I say in my blog: not all men are born with a dominant gene. With those men, I’m not sure that there’s any hope.  Those men who have the underlying qualities – at least there’s hope. Someone could probably write an entire book on this, lol.

Do people call you master?

As mentioned, I am happily married and have been for some time. My wife does not call me “Master” no. Nor do we discuss our personal lives in any kind of detail. I can tell you that I have been called “Master,” and it’s actually a lovely feeling. Obviously it is commonly used in a scene, but also it can be a nice endearment among two people who live the lifestyle.  He might say, “Sleep well my little pet,” and she might say, “Goodnight Master.”  Like anything, if terms of endearment are overused they become goofy.  We’ve all been around couples who make us gag because they are so lovey-dovey.  But used properly “Master” can be a great word. I’m not sure if your question was poking fun at the term…but I hold it in high regard.

Learn more about Al Daltrey.

Find Al Daltrey books.

Visit Al Daltrey’s Erotica BDSM virtual community.

A.C. Rose is a love, romance, and entertainment columnist and author of steamy romance books. Her Latest book is AROUSAL

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Only .99. Click to buy.

 

Allison Monroe just got kissed on an elevator.

But she has no time to be distracted by this gorgeous man, with his panty-melting glances and sexy accent. She’s headed to the most important event of her career—a launch party for the new “My Fantasy e-Reader” at Club Kismet, high atop a Manhattan Skyscraper.

She’s determined to forget about the amatory elevator ride.

But Nicolai Petre has other ideas. That kiss confirmed what his grandmother’s vision had already told him—that Allison is his destiny.

He’s determined win her love but has only six days to prove they are meant to be. So he must keep her in a state of… AROUSAL.

We Saw Fifty Shades Darker So You Don’t Have To

11 Feb

by Elizabeth SaFleur & Madeline Iva

Happy Weekend! We’re here to share with you all our thoughts after seeing FIFTY SHADES DARKER at the movie theatre last night. fifty-shades-darker

Madeline: I loved seeing that group of women who all came into the theatre wearing masks. In fact, my role here is to see the film with eyes of love.  To understand why women love it, why it’s so ridiculously successful.

Elizabeth: This blog post also could be titled, Fifty Scenes of Dakota’s Boobs. Or Fifty Shades of Mixed Messages.

Madeline: You’re in a mood this morning.  I can tell.

Elizabeth: I don’t hate the Fifty Shades franchise. I don’t love it either. I’m neutral, though I was really hoping Hollywood did a better job of portraying the lifestyle than they did previously. Of course, I recognized this story, from the get-go, isn’t a BDSM erotic romance at all.

Madeline: I mean, I agree.–But what is it then?

Elizabeth: It’s a story of a man with PTSD from his childhood who channels his angst by engaging in supposed sadism (I don’t think he’s really a sadist, by the way) with submissives. He meets an ordinary girl who sends this man mixed signals. But she would. She’s in her early twenties and still figuring herself out. But, Jesus, the back and forth!

All that chest--and no touching it. I would go mad.

All that chest–and no touching it. I would go mad.

Madeline: Yes, she’s still figuring it all out.  Jackie and I talked about that with the first movie. This is a strong message that’s getting out into the world these days and I applaud it.  You hear that men? Women are not playing games.  They’re not f**king with you.  They’re trying to figure it out, okay? And sometimes it’s not easy.

Elizabeth: I get why people love 50 Shades. Billionaires, mild kinky scenarios—

Madeline: Yay to mild-kink! Or, as I like to call it, Kinky-lite.  We need t-shirts.  I’ll get my people right on that.

Elizabeth: –especially if you’ve not been exposed before. People also love the luxurious settings, a man changed by the love of a woman. That trope is old as the hills.

Madeline Iva: As old as the hills–and yet there are real haters out there.  Haters who love romance, confoundingly.

Elizabeth: I get why people hate it. Bad BDSM benchmark set, a weak(er) story structure and did I mention the mixed signals from both characters?

Madeline: One thing about the mixed messages: I think that the movie makers had to do it the way that they did. They had to be true to the book and in the book, she’s walking away from kink.  On the other hand, what do we want? We want hot sex scenes in the movie! Like we had in the first movie, only different.  They delivered both.  Could they have delivered a movie that had a lot less sex? I don’t think so.

Elizabeth: The PR/Marketing person in me also thought they missed an opportunity to make the movie the best possible thing ever. No excuse! I mean, built-in audience, Hollywood! We had a row of women behind us who came as a group all wearing masks. You can’t buy this kind of loyalty.50-shades-darker-teaser-mask

Madeline: You think they should have really dug in and changed things, deepened the script, the plot, etc?

Elizabeth: Yes! So, sadly, this movie isn’t going to win any Oscars.

Madeline: So, here’s what I say — is this even really a movie? I mean, I thought of it as something in film form that was an homage to the book.  I think we’re in the early days of a whole new medium. We need to come up with a jazzy name for it.  I mean, that whole weird section with the helicopter crash? “Real” movies don’t actually work like that.  Which is okay–but comparing this to a movie is like comparing apples to…an apple flavored jolly roger candy.  You know?

Elizabeth: It will certainly please the 50 Shades crowd, but in equal measure that it will tick off the real-life BSDM enthusiasts. (I can’t help but think of how this mirrors our very-politically-divided country right now.)

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn't getting old.

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn’t getting old.

Madeline: Aren’t they already ticked off? I mean, by this point, I can’t imagine real-life BDSM enthusiasts going see this movie for sheer love.  Me, I was frankly relieved that it was so kinky-lite in the first movie.  FIFTY SHADES DARKER’s little play-time scenes were icing on the cake.  Besides, I brought my husband to see the movie, and was hoping to placate him with all the sexy biz.

Also, as Jezebel writers said: “What was good: basically nonstop puss eating.”

Elizabeth: !

Madeline: So sez Jezebel, so say we all. On the other hand, people kinda wanted to see Christian’s dick.  Not me, just…people.  #dickparity is a thing, I guess.

Elizabeth: What I liked about the movie: Dakota Johnson has got acting chops.

Madeline: I agree.

Elizabeth: She’d better than most people probably realize given she had to develop that character herself. Anastasia Steele’s clothes. I want that La Perla bustier garter set she’s wearing.

Madeline: We all want that La Perla bustier garter set.  And the body to go with it.

And it looks even better from the back...

And it looks even better from the back…

Elizabeth: –Ya know, for sitting around my home office so I can pretend I’m about to be whisked to a ball. Also, her lips. M and I agree – she had the best lipstick. And it stayed on no matter what they were doing like sucking face, which they did often.

Madeline: I liked the sucking face.  Jamie Dornan sucks face well.

Elizabeth: Christian Grey’s boat. Niiiice. Jamie Dornan’s buffness and scruffness – just the way I like it. Oh, and his neck! I just wanted to bury my face in it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

Madeline: I did not need him so buff.  But I am obsessed.  (Posting on that later.)

Elizabeth: The general eye candy was great. They live in a beautiful world.

Madeline: I was going through eye candy withdrawl. This movie definitely helped.

Elizabeth: But I can’t get over the mixed signals: “Christian, I can never, ever give you what you need.” Ten minutes later, “Christian, spank me.” “Take me to the red room.” Make up your mind, lady. You’re either into the kink or you’re not.

Madeline: Okay, here’s my take on that — at first in their relationship he wanted total control.  Even to the point of saying he didn’t “do relationships”.  Gah.  It’s like a dance, and he was always leading.

In FIFTY SHADES DARKER, she takes control.  It’s not about consistency.  It’s about her leading. In the past, with all his interactions the dominant dynamic was about them pleasing him.  Now he has to keep up with her, follow her lead, and prove to her that he can please her.  It’s all about her, people! (Which is catnip to us romance ladies.)

She's steering the ship now.

She’s steering the ship now.

Elizabeth: His admission that he’s not a Dominant, but a sadist really bothered me.

Madeline: It was certainly abrupt.

Elizabeth: And they acted like being a sadist must be a very, very, very bad thing. It’s not!!

Madeline: She’s getting on her BDSM soap box people.

Elizabeth: If you’re truly a responsible sadist, you play with consenting adults, and you never harm anyone.

Madeline: Which is different from causing them pain

Elizabeth: Right.  Pain is temporary, and some masochists get an endorphin rush off controlled pain, which registers as a kind of pleasure…so they like it.

Madeline: Yes, yes, yes!

Elizabeth: Harming someone is completely different.

Madeline: Noted.

Elizabeth: I had an issue with the symbolic kink. The movie brings out the usual kinky props, but clearly for symbolic reasons. There’s the blindfold and the cuffs but within one minute they’re having sex. They bring out the spreader bar and within one minute they’re having sex.  He gives her four spanks and then they’re having sex. I get it. They’re young, full of hormones and hot. But don’t expect any real BDSM. The movie had tons of sex and a little slap and tickle.

Madeline: I didn’t mind that at all. Huzzah to symbolic kinky sex!

Elizabeth: Speaking of the spreader bar. People…please DO NOT go to Amazon, buy the first spreader bar you see and do that flip move that Christian did to Ana without a lot of practice.

Do not try this at home...

Do not try this at home…

Madeline: It did look…quite…gymnastic.

Elizabeth: I’m not quite convinced that spreader bar exists in real life.

Madeline: A retractable spreader bar.  Yeah, that was a new one to me too.

Elizabeth: So don’t risk spraining an ankle or wrenching a back.

Madeline: Her breasts were like a third character in the movie.

Elizabeth: If there was an opportunity to show them off, the movie did.

Madeline: It’s actually in her contract–she must be topless or naked at least every fifteen minutes of the movie. (Joking.) But reading interviews, I think the actress has made this her thing.  And if an actor is a bit of an exhibitionist, who are we to complain? (I’m looking at you, Orlando Bloom.)

Elizabeth: Why couldn’t we get his glory to be the third character? Equal rights, man.

Madeline: #DickParity — starting that hashtag right now

Elizabeth: This movie was more sex positive than the last — and Ana wasn’t as big as a doormat as she was in the first movie.

Madeline: Amen to that!

Elizabeth: Oh, and for grins you really must check out this post from a Redbook writer, I Tried All the Sex From Fifty Shades Darker In One Weekend. Hilarious.

Madeline: I can’t believe Redbook did that…that is awesome.  Final comments?

Elizabeth: Bottom line: If you are a 50 Shades fan, you’ll love this movie.

Madeline: Durh.

Elizabeth: If you are a real-life BDSM lifestyler, you’ll probably stay away anyway. Christian is someone who needs to be “cured.” Yeah, right.  But what he needs (IMHO) is help with his PTSD, not his BDSM proclivities (though I’m not convinced BDSM even really is his thing).

Madeline: What is his thing?

Elizabeth: Okay–Growing up, Christian discovers how to use kink to channel his anger from his childhood trauma.  And so maybe when he gets together with her, and they bond, that anger starts to go away? And that’s why he walks away from it all.

Towards the end of the series, he says he doesn’t want to do it anymore.  In the third book he doesn’t want a red room in the new house.

A Dominant, meanwhile, that’s their main thing–being in control.  If he actually can be happy without being in control, yeah, he’s not a Dominant.  And a sadist — I’m sorry, but you don’t just actually decide not to be someone who gets off on pain.  It’s like trying to pray your way out of being gay.

Madeline: So if this was real life–which it’s not–Elena would be right.  Ana and Christian together as a couple would be a compromise for him.  A compromise most couples don’t survive.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie--which makes it all very meta.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie–which makes it all very meta.

Elizabeth: Right.  If it was real life.

Madeline: Which it’s not.

Elizabeth: I don’t care if this story is fiction, that idea should be sorted out. Okay, Hollywood, can you do that for us? So we’re ALL happy? See built-in audience above.50shadesshouldersleeping

And don’t forget out V-Day Giveaway.  Subscribe to Lady Smut — push the pink bottom at the top right of your screen and you’ll be entered to win. 

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Kinky F*ckery in 50 Shades: Interview with Jackie C. Horne

11 Feb

Ladies—Jackie from ROMANCE NOVELS FOR FEMINISTS is here with me today to delve deeply into the core themes of the 50 Shades phenomenon. We focussed on two questions:

Why do women love this fantasy?

Two reasons I love this fantasy--and they're big and blue.

Two reasons why I love this fantasy–they’re big and blue.

Does 50 SHADES represent a step forward in women’s sexual freedom—or a step back?

If you like 50 Shades and smart discussion – you’re in for a treat!

MADELINE IVA: I’m very interested in focusing on what it is that draws women to the 50 Shades fantasy…

JACKIE C. HORNE: To answer that, you first have to answer the question “what is the fantasy” that these books and films hold out to us? And that fantasy may be different for different readers and viewers. As a literary critic, I see three different fantasies at play in books 1 & 2. First, the fantasy that an ordinary girl (ordinary in both looks and intelligence) can catch the attention of a wealthy, handsome man (the cornerstone of much romance writing).

Second, the fantasy that said ordinary girl can rescue/save an emotionally messed-up man (again, a foundational trope in romance).

And finally, the fantasy that indulging in “kinky fuckery” is something to take pleasure in, rather than something to be ashamed of, even for an ordinary girl. The latter fantasy is the most progressive one, the most positive one as far as women’s rights and women’s sexual freedom goes. But the two former ones are what makes it safe, I think, for readers to accept the latter one. It’s the combination of all three that made the books such a phenomenon. Romance tropes as the life preserver, if you will, that allow readers to imagine themselves swimming out into the less familiar waters of sex with a touch of kink.50

MADELINE IVA: I’ve never heard it stated so well, Jackie! We’ve touched upon this topic before: I see the role of BDSM in the romance genre as representing a fundamental evolution in the role of consent.  Women are now asking for the sex they want and negotiating with their partners for sex that they want –or don’t want!–tons more than they used to.  I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts about this after watching the first movie.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I think this depends on the reader’s relationship with BDSM and the BDSM community. In the book 50 Shades Darker, when Ana is talking about Christian’s sexual needs with Christian’s psychiatrist, Dr. Flynn explains that “of course there is such a thing as sexual sadism, but it’s not a disease; it’s a lifestyle choice. And if it’s practiced in a safe, sane relationship between consenting adults, then it’s a non-issue” (412). If you are a reader who is a sexual sadist, or who is familiar with the BDSM community, then you’re probably going to find 50 Shades problematic when it comes to consent. The reason why I didn’t read these books until you asked me to participate in this discussion was because I had heard from romance writers who write erotic & BDSM romance that the books aren’t an accurate depiction of BDSM or of the BDSM community.

MADELINE IVA: True, but there’s a crap-ton of fantasy in BDSM erotic romance already. Inaccuracies abound and many fans want the fantasy—not the reality. (Esp. when it comes to sex clubs.)

JACKIE C. HORNE: If you’re not familiar with BDSM, though, if you read the consent to kinky sex not as a realistic possibility but as a metaphor, then yes, it can definitely be a metaphor for female consent.

It takes Ana a while (all the way to the end of book 1) to figure out what she wants, and doesn’t want, out of her sexual relationship with Christian. She’s up for bondage, up for spanking, up for lighter sexual pain, all things she never would have imagined she’d liked before she met Christian.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! And in the movie — what we see dominates what we hear. What we SEE is Ana enjoying lite kinky play…In the book, which is so much internal, her confusion and ambivalence take center stage.first-kiss-50

JACKIE C. HORNE: But in the book’s climactic scene, she realizes that she is not up for being punished, for being the object upon which Christian takes out his anger. Refusing to consent to the linking of love and male anger, the idea that male anger is always a part of male love—that may be the key shift from Old Skool romance novels to contemporary romances.

MADELINE IVA: This is a great interpretation, and I agree that if the fundamental message is not to accept male anger as a part of male love, that it’s a good one.  But I don’t know….(more on that later.)

What I saw as I watched that final scene in the first movie was her seeing his emotional pain and wanting to take on his pain — like a martyr.

Meanwhile, Cara McKenna is my touchstone for an author who shows consent VERY well without bogging down the plot or making us fall out of the fantasy.  50 Shades maybe does this less well, but it might be interesting to contrast how consent is carried out in the movie vs. the book.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Did you think there were major differences between book and movie in this regard? I didn’t notice any myself, but if you have specific scenes you can point to, I’d be happy to go back and re-watch the film again.

“Please, Ana, let me make love to you.”

“Yes,” I whisper, because that’s why I’m here. (50 Shades of Grey, 113) 

MADELINE IVA: I’m thinking of the contract stuff.  In the movie she was actively negotiating with him face to face and crossing out elements she vetoed. It seemed like there was energy to this exchange. To me this showed strong female agency — and have we ever seen a woman in a film before negotiating over sex so thoroughly? (Excepting scenes with sex workers–and even then not so much.)

In the book, meanwhile, the contract seemed (this is my interpretation) a packet of doom.  It seemed to make her cringe, and the details dwelt upon had to do with total control over her as well as painful sex acts.  It dragged her down into a pit of (again my take)  “No, no, no, no, OMG. Am I going to have to do this stuff? Gah!

JACKIE C. HORNE: Oh, yes, the contract scene is so great in the film! It shows Ana being far more empowered, and really enjoying the negotiating with Christian. Many film reviews cite that scene as the best thing in the movie.

In the book, the language of the contract appears not just once, but four times (at least in part). Is it just sloppy writing, that repetition? Or is there something really important in that legal language to James? The idea that this is a business relationship, rather than a personal one, to Christian? Which is an idea that Ana ultimately cannot accept.

MADELINE IVA: I’m interesting in talking about Jamie Dornan as a man/actor who was a kind of reluctant participant himself in the movie.  Yes, he did it for his career, and didn’t have long to think about his choice.  Also he is most definitely NOT a fan of the life style.

Dakota Johnson seems to have adapted a bit more (maybe because it’s the corner stone of her career?)

There are interviews where Dornan apologized profusely to Dakota Johnson before each take.  Do we care as much about male consent as we do about female consent? Is this going to be a problem? (Is it one already? Can men refuse sex without having their sexuality challenged, or facing aggressive repercussions –even if not physical violence?)

JACKIE C. HORNE: Your questions make me think about 15-year-old Christian, at the start of his affair with Elena. Did he consent? He says he did, but Ana is consistently appalled by the mere thought of an adult woman inviting a 15-year-old boy to have (kinky) sex with her. Ana never asks Christian to tell her more about his experience; she instantly assumes that he had no agency, no ability to consent, that he was molested and abused.50-shades-shower

I was disappointed that the books, which initially reserve judgment on this issue (was Christian abused? Or was his relationship with Elena a positive, even life-saving one?) end up coming down hard on the side of abuse by the end of book 2. Rather than presenting Ana’s intense jealousy of Elena as misguided or immature, the end of book 2 reinforces the idea that Ana is right to be wary of Elena. I thought this a very sexist move, complete with bitch-slap for the erring woman (not by Ana, but by Christian’s adopted mother).

I wished we could have heard more about Christian’s experience with Elena, that Ana had been more curious rather than judgmental about it. In some ways, you could say that Ana is infantilizing Christian by refusing to grant that even as a 15-year-old, he might have been capable of making informed decisions about his sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: And this goes back to the core fantasies.  What you saw as the ordinary young woman saving/healing the wounded man I saw as a kind of mothering thing — the power of soothing.  “Let me make the hurt go away” kind of actions.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

JACKIE C. HORNE: The larger issue—about male consent in general—is an interesting one. Yes, a man who turns down a chance to have sex is still likely to have his masculinity, or his heterosexuality, called into question, even in this day and age. But a man who turns down BDSM sex, or feels squicky about it, there’s something different going on there. BDSM sex isn’t as widely accepted, as widely admired, as straight heterosexual sex; there’s a taint attached to it for many people. Wanting to dominate women is a big no-no in our purportedly post-feminist age. So not consenting to participate in Dom/sub sex, or expressing uneasiness or discomfort with having to act as if you enjoy it, can be read by many as a positive thing, an endorsement of more equal power during sex between partners. A women’s rights kind of thing, no?

MADELINE IVA: Well, I actually know men who say “whatever she wants sexually I kinda have to do” and that with one man it’s kinky stuff with his wife. He’s okay with it, because she enjoys it.  With another man it’s about his incredible discomfort playing out semi-rape fantasies with women he’s having sex with…I think part of his discomfort involves reinforcing the perception that in some way he LOOKS predatory, etc.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I haven’t heard similar stories from any of my male friends or acquaintances. But your friends’ experiences do show how men can be subject to (or even victims of) sexual stereotypes. (I’m in the midst of reading a book about a gay asexual man, and he feels quite similarly, that he is surrounded by the imperative “men always want sex”). No man, or woman, should feel like they HAVE to do anything, sex-wise, that they don’t want to do. Ever. I hope your latter friend can find women to date who won’t push him to play the semi-rape game.

MADELINE IVA: Yup, I agree. The singles world of dating, hook-ups, etc, is a jungle—the price we pay for more sexual freedom seems to be more social pressure about sex and displaying sexuality in increasingly artificial ways.

Part of the conundrum of playing up one’s sexuality is that some men I know have that bad boy vibe, but at heart they’re good guys. They draw women to them, but eventually hit an impasse when looks and who he is just doesn’t match her expectations.  In this film the bad boy is gradually revealed as a ‘good boy’ on the inside. So maybe there’s hope for my friends…fifty-shades-ball-1486048963

Moving on! Has Trump ruined billionaire romances? Or put a significant dent in them? I remember thinking: “Consent all you want young woman from a poor family. Once you’re in handcuffs in his home he could do anything he wanted to you and probably get away with it…” and I know this is a direct line of thinking from the news/publicity about Trump during the election…

Yet there’s always one side in the romance world shouting “IT”S JUST A FANTASY!” Is there a problem with saying it’s all just a fantasy? And what are we to do with the constant  demand from women for forbidden sexual fantasy? Should we be pragmatic and accept this?

OR for instance, (as one who grew up watching male fantasies of women in the media), do we understand that this has deeply impacted and harmed our culture?

JACKIE C. HORNE: I was recently interviewed by a reporter for the Village Voice, who asked if I thought the billionaire romance trend had contributed to the acceptance of Trump by many women. Rather than ruining billionaire romances, Trump might be the logical outcome of this romance trend. Because billionaire romances paper over the trouble that actual billionaires present, don’t they? Unlike saintly Christian, whom we only ever see engaging in business that is meant to help the powerless (donating food to Darfur; developing solar technology; donating money to the university to develop sustainable food programs), most real-life billionaires make their money through capitalistic competition, competition that often relies on shortchanging the average Joe (or average Ana) worker. To fantasize about a powerful billionaire falling for them, women have to forget or ignore all the other women (and men) upon whom his billions were built, and upon whom his continued wealth still relies.

And they also have to keep imagining that the only path to power is an indirect one, by being in a relationship with a wealthy man, rather than imagining that they could gain power themselves. Those are both fantasies that limit, rather than empower, women.

So I don’t buy the “it’s just a fantasy” explanation/excuse. What is the fantasy, and why are we having it? That’s a far more productive question, and avenue for exploration.

MADELINE IVA: I have no problem with this, only sometimes the liberal peeps can be as judgmental and shaming as conservatives without exploring the needs, frustrations, and context of those who are very different from them in terms of race or class.  If we could explore all of these issues without a dose of shaming, it would be nice.

But you know, scientific research on sexuality seems to indicate that what sexually turns us on seems to be fixed.  Maybe the “Why” of the fantasy and the turn on go back to that slushy mix of our evolution and what we were exposed to in our youth/teens and that’s that…Which takes us right back to your point about Christian’s first sexual experiences…

Let’s turn to talking about the differences between the first book and movie.  Some things just not translate well from book to movie? I don’t recall when in the book he showed up in Savannah that it was as big a deal to me.  But in the movie I had an involuntary “Stalker!” reaction. He seemed so much creepier in the movie.  Or is this just that I’m coming off watching him in THE FALL where he played a serial killer? ; >50shadesbathrobe

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I had just the opposite reaction!

MADELINE IVA: — Okay, I hang my head and accept that I am having a post-The Fall Dornan experience.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I thought he was far creepier in the book than he was in the film. Dornan just smiled too much to feel like the controlling Christian of the books to me! (Must say I’ve never seen The Fall, though). The film cut out many of book-Christian’s more stalker-y/controlling moves—no mention of him moving her to first class on the plane without asking her, and he’s not so insistent about her eating all the time—so he didn’t come across as quite so control-freakish in the film as he does in the book.

MADELINE IVA: The eating thing.  Ugh!  It also made Ana seem SO PASSIVE and waify/victim-y.50-touching-lips

JACKIE C. HORNE: On the other hand, in book 1, when Ana teases Christian in an email “Have you sought therapy for your stalker tendencies?” he tells her (and us) that “I pay the eminent Dr. Flynn a small fortune with regard to my stalker and other tendencies” (290). This reassured me; I had thought from what people had told me about the books that they normalized stalkery/über-controlling male behavior. That Christian is actively seeing a psychiatrist about his issues sends the opposite message: that stalkery/über-controlling behavior is psychologically problematic. I was disappointed that Christian’s shrink did not make it into the film.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! Anastasia seemed to enjoy most of what they did a whole lot more in the movie than her internals showed in the book.  And did that tilt the scales of problems some people had with the book?

ana-shirt-2JACKIE C. HORNE: For all that we get so much of her internal thoughts in the books, Anastasia of the novels is a pretty empty character. That’s not a good or a bad thing; it’s just a way of telling a story, a way that allows the reader more easily to project herself into the novel than if Ana’s character had more individuality, had been more fully developed. Ironically, though we get little of her internal thoughts in the film, seeing Dakota Johnson up on the screen made her more of a person to me, an individual with thoughts and emotions different from mine, rather than just an empty placeholder for me to project myself onto.

The lack of access to Ana’s thoughts makes her wishy-washy-ness re: the kinky sex less apparent. I agree that in the film, she seems to enjoy the kinky sex more than she does in the books. And that made the story more interesting to me—the story of a woman exploring the boundaries of her own sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: I agree that Dakota Johnson did a great job of seeming vulnerable and kinda raw in her own skin, but also very fluid and interesting in the kinky scenes.  She also just seemed older, which I found reassuring…

Going back to how this series explores typical/conservative romance values side by side with the more progressive idea of a young woman exploring kinky sex—Ultimately, Ana rejects kinky sex.  Do you think that this is on par with the other more conservative values of the book’s romantic tropes and again, makes it more safe for more conservative romance readers to accept it?  (Noting that this move seems to enrage many BDSM erotic romance authors more than anything else.)

Are we back to the “forced seduction” sexual tropes of the 80’s? In those romance novels it was okay for the woman to have sex in those situations because she didn’t ask for it… In the 50 Shades franchise, is it okay for Ana to explore BDSM-lite because ultimately she rejects it and therefore is still ‘a good girl’?

Meanwhile, what are we in the audience doing throughout the movie if not enjoying Ana’s engaging in forbidden kink?

weredoingwhat

We’re doing WHAT? Everyone seems to agree that both actors are much more comfortable filming together now. Not surprising, given the success of the franchise, and the boost to their respective careers.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I was thinking about what title I would give this discussion and came up with “Having your kink and condemning it too”!

I agree with you that Ana’s disgust with and rejection of the punishment aspect of Dom/sub play does dovetail with the more conservative values of the book’s romance tropes. Her rejection gives readers an “out,” a having your cake and eating it too safety valve. Which does undercut the progressive message to a large degree.

But on the other hand, Ana doesn’t rejects ALL kink (at least by the end of book 2). As I noted above, she enjoys being tied up, being restrained, being spanked. And in DARKER the book, she’s bugging Christian all the time to go back to the Red Room of Pain. Which doesn’t seem to me to be just about serving Christian’s needs; it seems to be a deep curiosity of her own about kinky sex.

Ana’s rejection of Christian’s sadism (and the book’s rejection of that label for him) enrages many BDSM erotic romance authors because Ana’s decision at the end of book 1 has a larger ideological weight: it tells the reader that the power dynamics in ALL Dom/sub relationships are both shameful AND are signs of psychological damage that needs to be repaired. Which is exactly the opposite message of current psychological thinking, as Dr. Flynn explains. Someone is a sadist just because he (or she) is one, not because he or she was traumatized as a child.

Perhaps Ana should pay Dr. Flynn (or another qualified psychologist) a visit to talk about her own ambivalences about BDSM?

MADELINE IVA: Perhaps!

Thank you Jackie SO MUCH for chatting with me! And readers, don’t forget our KAMA SUTRA giveaway.  All you have to do is hit our pink subscribe button above and to the right.

kama-sutra-giveaway

This giveaway includes massage oil, candle, soap, and lip balm.  (Continental US only!)

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

 

 

 

Untouchable, An Erotic Billionaire BDSM Free Read

13 Nov

By Elizabeth SaFleur

Continuing our series of Sexy Sunday Snippets, below is a free excerpt from Untouchable, a billionaire BDSM erotic romance. Wealthy, D.C. corporate attorney Carson Drake is the master of the romantic pre-emptive strike—until he meets London, the woman who tests every assumption he’s ever had about love.

~~~~~

The woman pushed off the railing and made her way to the circular staircase on the far side of the balcony.

Carson left his drink on a side table and proceeded toward the intriguing figure. Why the hell not? Rarely did he approach someone so early in the evening, but she piqued his interest. Perhaps she sought what he did—pleasure with no complications.

That’s why he liked Club Accendos. No hidden agenda. Defined roles. Clear deadlines—usually the end of the night. No one gets hurt. He laughed to himself. Well, not unless they want the pain.

As soon as the woman’s foot hit the second step down, her familiarity clicked into place. Holy hell. London.

In his peripheral vision, he watched another man join his progression toward her. He plowed through the crowd to reach the staircase first. He cut off the other Dominant with a flick of his eye. I’ll fight for this one. The man understood the warning. He walked by, unbothered by the nanosecond exchange.

As soon as London had descended halfway down the stairs, she froze. Her petulant chin lifted as she recognized him. Within seconds, she resumed her descent, her eyes full of her usual bravado.

When London reached the final step, he held out his hand to help her down. “Hello, sugar.”

She ignored his offer and tried to scoot by him. He captured her arm, lightly. He didn’t want to frighten her, merely get her attention. Her eyes flamed with annoyance and blood rushed to his cock.

She raised her chin. “Excuse me, but we haven’t been introduced.” Of course her voice contained her signature, throaty impudence.

He raised his eyebrow. Playing games? Fine. “I’m Carson Drake. Sit and talk?” He leveled his voice to the business tone she’d recognize, less of a Dominant and more of a diplomat.

Her shoulders relaxed a little but her eyes held debate.

He took her hesitation as a “yes.” He circled her waist and led her away from the crowd toward one of the side doors. As a Tribunal Council member, he had a private room—far from any potential interruptions.

London stopped short. “Where are we going?”

“Someplace more quiet.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“Then you don’t have to.” He dropped his hold on her waist.

“Just talking?”

“Yes. Witnesses saw us leave. You’re safe.”

She let him pull her through a gothic arched door. A bodyguard closed it behind them.

untouchable_cover7

He moved them down an expansive hallway lined with closed doors. Only after ushering her inside the last door at the end did he let go of her elbow. She immediately crossed her arms.

“It’s okay, sugar. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“I’m meeting someone.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, so I can’t stay long.” She worked her bottom lip and shuffled her weight from foot to foot. Her eyes also darted to the bed in the corner. Perhaps she thought he’d take her right away? She knew his identity. She should know he was committed to due diligence. And he had to know why she was here—the last place on earth he’d expect London Chantelle.

He sat in one of two cushioned chairs set before a lit fireplace. He appreciated her luscious curves, beautifully illuminated by the amber glow of the low fire.

“Sit.” He beckoned her to join him.

“I like standing.”

“Sit.” The commanding tones of a Dom brought the expected result. As she lowered herself into the chair, her ponytail licked one shoulder. “Your hair is beautiful in this light,” he said. “More golden brown than I noticed before.”

She swallowed. “Thank you, um . . . I go by Tatiana.”

“It doesn’t suit you. Why not go with, say . . . London?”

Her mouth dropped to an “O” in alarm, and she leapt from her seat.

“Sit. Down.” He pointed to the chair.

“Please.” Her hazel eyes implored lenience, and her tone of voice surprised him. He liked the beseeching quality. It was quite a departure from her customary, unadulterated demand.

“Please what? You thought a simple mask and change of clothing meant I wouldn’t recognize you?”

“I hoped . . . maybe . . . I can’t do this.”

Before she could complete two steps, he’d risen from his chair and laid his hand on her shoulder. She stopped. He pressed his torso against her back, sending her firm ass into his crotch. He decided to like her stiletto boots. He was a tall man and they made her the perfect height. He waited to see if she’d object, at which point he’d back off. She didn’t move.

He pulled off the elastic holding her hair captive. A curtain of gold-laced chestnut silk cascaded free. He brushed her mane to one side and bared her shoulder. “That’s better.”

Her breathing sped up. “You said just talking.”

“Still, sweetness.” He inhaled her scent of Ivory soap and cinnamon Christmas cookies before stepping backward. “We are talking.”

She twisted to face him. “Carson, please . . .”

He liked how her emotions turned in an instant. She’d test his abilities to direct her psychology in a scene. He nearly laughed at himself. How quickly I have her bound and pleasured in my mind. “There. Now that’s a start. I rather like you begging me.”

“I don’t beg.”

And there goes that chin. “We’ll see.” He took another step back. His instincts told him she wouldn’t bolt.

“Take a seat, London.” He returned to his chair. “When you do, hands in your lap. After you listen to me you can decide if you wish to leave. It will be your choice.”

She hesitated, then nestled her behind onto the chair opposite him. She placed her hands in her lap. The thumb of one hand worked the palm of the other.

“Take off your mask. Show me your pretty face.”

She took a deep breath as her elegant fingers slipped off her disguise, pulling the fastening ribbon through her perfect hair. He wanted to capture her cheeks in his hands. He’d rub off the mask indents and erase the worry imprinted on her forehead.

“How long have you been without a master?” he asked.

“I-I’m not . . .” Her jawline hardened. “It’s none of your business.”

“That’s a shame. I’m good at business.” His mouth broke into a smile at the thought of bending her over her desk, papers sticking to her bared breasts, pens falling to the floor. He’d smack her ass with that leather portfolio she carried around like a shield. He wouldn’t stop until her engraved initials imprinted her skin.

“Why did you bring me here?” she whispered.

“You’re looking for a Dom. I’m a Dom looking for a sub.”

She flinched at his final word. “What do you want, Carson?”

What I want. Did it matter? He’d given up what he wanted long ago—a spirited submissive who matched his desires. Someone who might actually stick with him and not drop him the minute a better offer came through. He didn’t allow himself to think finding such a woman was possible anymore.

“Time. Willingness. Pleasure.” He folded his hands and laid his chin on his knuckles. “Now, I want to know what you want.”

“No, you don’t.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Toying with me will not get you anywhere, sweetness.”

“Isn’t that what you are doing with me?”

“Hardly.” He let silence take over the space.

“Then what?” she whispered after long minutes.

“Patience will be your first lesson tonight. Then I’ll consider you.”

Consider me?” She gave him a hardened, fuck-off look.

“Yes. Last time. What do you want?”

He let a few seconds tick by. Then he stood. “If you won’t tell me why you’re here, what you seek, then I can’t help.”

“I-I didn’t mean . . . it isn’t easy . . .”

“You must answer my questions when I ask them. No delay. It’s for your safety and mine.”

Her lips pursed, her signal she realized she was losing. Her sassiness had its usual alluring appeal—futile, but adorable. She licked her bottom lip, the subtle move urging him forward.

“Stand,” he said.

She stood cautiously.

“What is your safeword?” he asked.

“Excuse me? A-a scene. With you? You’re a client. If anything ever got back—”

“Then we would both lose. And I don’t lose.”

“No, You take what you want and damn the consequences.”

“London.” He walked toward her and she backed around the chair. “What are you afraid of? Afraid you might get what you want? Experience what you’ve longed for?”

She let out a huff, but continued to retreat as he advanced. He sent her in a backward circle until she closed in on the canopied bed. Yes, most definitely submissive. The urge to discover how deep her desires ran raged through him like a brushfire.

“How would you know what I long for?” Her haughty chin jutted out.

“I want to know, London. Tell me.”

“Why?” She’d backed up until she connected with the bedpost.

“Fair question. And one I’ll answer. Given you and I dance well together at the boardroom table, why wouldn’t we here? Had I known your proclivities I might have offered. Why didn’t you come to me before?” How had he missed her signs?

“B-but you hate me.”

Now he was puzzled. “No, I don’t. You sometimes . . . irritate, but I could never hate you. Surely you noticed my tendencies.”

“Being a bully in a boardroom does not make you a Dominant I’d be interested in.”

“Ouch, London. That hurt.” He slapped his chest above his heart but kept his face stony.

“I didn’t think you could feel pain.”

“Everyone feels pain.” Her lips parted when he closed the last inch of distance between them. His thighs touched hers, and he softened his voice. “It pleases me you’re here. There’s no use in fighting this chemistry.” He hooked a thumb on his waistband. “One weekend.”

“With you?”

“Yes.”

“What will you do with your harem?”

He unbuckled his belt. “Your second lesson. Don’t force discipline with a smart mouth.”

“I don’t have that kind of time.” She raised her impertinent jawline—again.

Lesson three: discipline your haughty chin.

“Not enough time to learn discipline or not enough time, in general?” The loud rasp of leather yanked through his belt loops sent her attention to his torso.

“What are you doing?” Her panicked gaze shot to his face.

“I don’t have a collar on me.”

“I am wholly disinterested in being collared.”

“One weekend, London.” He grasped one of her hips with his free hand. “If you’re disappointed at any time, you can walk. I’ll never speak of it again. Our work together will go unaffected. No one—and I mean no one—but us will know.”

“Would you put that in writing?” Her eyes filled with mischief.

Priceless. London lured him toward a lightning storm. He could play. Hell, nothing appealed in the moment more than a weekend playing with her. Yes, this is what he wanted. Now he needed to know if she was willing.

“I’ll do one better.” He snaked the belt around her waist until the leather rested against her hips.

“I’m not a notch on a belt.”

“You could never be a notch, London Chantelle. You’re the whole belt, sugar.”

Her face softened, and the playfulness in her eyes died. He recognized the deliberation behind them, the wonder if she’d be safe, here and at work. She needn’t have worried. She might get scared, but mutual satisfaction was the only way his brand of sexual fulfillment worked.

“Say yes or no.” He pressed his torso to her corseted body, the last space between her body and his obliterated. “But say yes.”

“What will happen if I say yes?”

“What you want.  What you’ve probably always wanted.”

Her eyes misted with a surprising vulnerability. “Yes.”

~~~~~

 

What’s next? Read more in Untouchable, an Elite Doms of Washington novel.

Until then follow Lady Smut and get what you’ve always wanted, too.

~~~~~

Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get a little graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington.

Whip It Good

21 Sep
Whip me, baby

When a problem comes along You must whip it Before the cream sets out too long You must whip it When something’s goin’ wrong You must whip it – Devo

By Elizabeth Shore

You know how it is when you’ve got a day off from work or other obligations and you find yourself with an entire day to yourself? Yay! you mentally cheer. You can get an enormous laundry list of things accomplished – including the laundry itself! – and you’re imbued with a sense of purpose. But then…well, remember that saying about the best laid plans? Without warning your motivation dries up, you realize you’re exhausted, the weather outside is crap, and nothing seems better than watching a movie or three and deciding the chores can stuff it.

I found myself in just that situation last Sunday. I was going to do laundry but every machine in my building was in use. I could have gone for a walk but the clouds looked ominous. I could have read a book – my tbr pile is scraping the sky – but a sense of drowsiness warned me that my eyes would start drooping after about page 2. So instead I plopped down on the couch and rented a juicy little French flick called Alice, ou les désirsA teaser photo for the main character showed her dressed up in a tight, black leather number complete with studs and a collar. Awesome! I was hooked (just like she was!).

As it turned out, Alice was a sexual awakening film focused on the main character’s introduction to, and exploration of, a lifestyle of kink. Well, sign me up! It all started with Alice confronting her loser husband at a dinner party hosted by Alice’s cousin, Léa. Alice decides she’s had enough of him and informs him she’s leaving. Problem: she has no place to go. Cousin Léa to the rescue. Subsequent scenes reveal Léa letting Alice know that she’s really, really into kink. Wide-eyed Alice is at first stunned, then intrigued, then, as the film goes on, part of the scene. Léa dresses Alice in sexy unmentionables and takes hot photos of her, both inside the apartment and then eventually – as Alice becomes bolder –  outside on the street. So far, so good.

Alice takes her burgeoning interest to an online chatroom where she meets a Dom who insists she call him Master. Being a good little submissive, Alice is quick to obey. There’s a pretty hot scene with Master telling Alice to spread her legs, touch herself, and imagine that he’s whipping her. This really gets her going, and she loves him telling her what to do, eventually bringing herself to orgasm and telling Master all about it. Nice.

Eventually Léa lets Alice know that a younger guy, Rémy – a student of Alice’s, as it turns out (she’s a math teacher) – is also into the kink lifestyle and wants to get it on with Alice. She’s initially outraged since she could lose her job over sex with a student (anyone’s thoughts going to Mary Kay Letourneau at this point? Yeah, me too). But Léa poo-poos Alice’s outrage and convinces her it’ll be fun. Alice relents and a long sexy scene follows in which Rémy and Léa dress up Alice in a tight black dress with a collar and leash and parade her in the street. Then they take her to a classroom, and (this next scene’s my favorite) here’s where the ultimate hotness takes place. Alice has to fully undress, stand in front of the blackboard and solve a complex math equation while Rémy is behind her, touching and kissing her everywhere. Her mind’s getting blown and it’s impossible to focus, but Rémy’s in full Dom mode and firmly insists that she keep at the math equation. This, my friends, was awesome. I loved the contrast between fully dressed, bossy Dom and naked, submissive, highly aroused Alice.

An interesting focus of this particular BDSM journey was the emphasis on whipping. There were several whipping scenes yet nary a paddle to be found. Even spanking was a rare commodity. So what’s writer Cécile Calvet doing getting us all whipped into a frenzy? I did a bit of research to see what peeps in the know are saying about whipping vs paddling. A detailed book, In Praise of the Whip by Niklaus Largier, offers a comparison between religious and erotic whipping, but that wasn’t quite what I was after. Ultimately I found someone in a kink chatroom who offers up this perspective: whipping, flaggelation, and paddling are all a hot turnon, it just depends on if you’re into the sting or the thud.

What say you, dear readers? To sting or to thud – that is the question. Or does it even matter? For those into kink, let us know what you think.

Elizabeth Shore writes both contemporary and historical erotic romance. Her newest book is an erotic historical novella, Desire Rising, from The Wild Rose Press. Other releases include Hot Bayou Nights and The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires

 

Madame X & My Book Hangover: Guest Post by Thien-Kim Lam

2 Sep
Click to buy.

Click to buy.

Hello Dear Readers! Madeline here.  I am exceptionally excited to have Thien-Kim Lam guest post on our blog today. 🙂  Alexa Day was bemoaning declawed alpha males earlier this week, but I think Thien-Kim has found a ringer here—check it out, Alexa!

When I first pick up a romance, it’s the heroine I fall in love with first.

It doesn’t matter who she is, I root for her. Sometimes she’s funny or ambitious (or both!). She doesn’t need a man in her life, but she’ll glad take him for a hard ride. (Maybe more than once.) I love her because she chooses her own path and expects to be treated equal to others. I adore that romance authors give my (our?) heroines agency in their lives.

Agency is what makes all romance heroines feminists.

Then I met X. That’s Madame X to you.

In opening pages of Jasinda Wilder’s Madame X, our heroine is calculating and demanding. Her confident tone would be heralded if she had a penis between her legs. Despite her expertise, the recipient of her reprimand refuses to accept her instructions. She’s unwavering in her demands and he eventually accepts his reality: Madame X won’t take shit from her man-child client.

I loved Madame X mere paragraphs into the novel.

Who is Madame X? It might be easier to define who she is not. She’s not a prostitute. Nor is she a dominatrix. She teaches spoiled, affluent clients how to exude confidence and control inside the boardroom and out. She uses great skill to force these young men into (psychological) submission. Madame X always succeeds. Thus, her services are in high demand.

She is one badass woman who’s not afraid to take control. I want a friend like X. Someone I could drink some 12-year-old single malt scotch with and talk about everything: men, work, sex, and definitely orgasms.

My heart stopped when Caleb entered X’s apartment. Suddenly her personality changed. Around him she spoke softly, acted demurely, and instantly responded to his command to strip. He takes what he needs from her: her mouth, her breasts, her sex. She feels she has no choice but to give Caleb what he demands. He saved her when she had no one else to take care of her. He’s given every material thing she touches and every memory she has. Even if her heart and mind tries to stand up to him,her body responds to his touch. 7e7bd95b7d149c15b55241f1f5d75dd3She never fails to reach her peak under his hands.

Madame X submits to Caleb’s dark eyes and roving hands while wishing for the freedom to choose what she wants. A freedom that Jasinda Wilder’s opening pages led me to believe that X had. A freedom that I wish for X as badly as she wishes for herself.

As a reader, I expect an emotional roller coaster ride, but Jasinda’s novel was more like Space Mountain than the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. I had no idea where she would take me but I blindly–and happily–hung on for dear life. She had me hooked. I was determined to keep my eyes open during the thrill ride, even if I could only see tiny little lights ahead.

It’s been almost a month since I finished Madame X and I cannot stop thinking about this book.

Did she fit into my idea of a feminist heroine? Her lack of freedom, the options available to her, and the choices she made said no. More confounding to me was the desire she had for Caleb. How could a strong woman like X need approval and affection from cold, calculating Caleb?

I relive X’s journey in my head over and over. Why did she make the choices she did? Caleb held the key to her gilded cage, but surely she could have stood up to him the way she stood up to her clients. Maybe he wouldn’t give her complete freedom. Maybe she could ask him to let her decide when and if she would submit to his sexual demands. Why didn’t she just ask?

Then it hit me. I’m projecting what *I* would do onto Madame X.

c666b4943fc8ee0ee370f1b4b6a93198X makes the best decision based on the information she has. Even though the novel is written in first-person, I–the reader–feel omniscient. I see how Caleb is gaslighting X. I see the cyclical signs of emotional and verbal abuse followed by remorse. X’s circumstances have not given her the knowledge bank to realize Caleb may not have her best interests at heart.My knowledge and background are different from hers so my choices are different from hers.

Madame X may not be the feminist heroine that I envisioned when I first met her, but I never got the impression that she was weak. I had to have faith that Madame X would choose what she felt was best for herself even if I didn’t like her decision.

I’m not a fan of cliffhangers, but it fits for this dark romance. Just like my personal journey, X’s intense emotional journey can’t be told in just one book. I’ve fallen in love with X, and I want her to be happy. I’m not ready to let her go. Madame X caught me tightly in its web. I’m ready to take deep breaths and buckle in for the next two books in the series.

If you haven’t read Madame X yet, be forewarned that you’ll have the biggest book hangover ever.

Just make sure you’re buckled in for the Jasinda Wilder roller coaster ride.

Thien-Kim Lam is a feminist who loves erotica and romance. She is the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy reads with bedroom toys and sensual products. Batteries are always included. Check 5 Steamy Book & Sex Toy Pairings for Your Pleasure Chest for buzzy recommendations.

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